The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
THIRTY years have passed since "the great debate" over the League of Nations after one world war, and less than four since we hailed the United Nations as promising at least some compensation for the sacrifices of a second. Yet today we find ourselves facing again the question that seemed settled -- whether the interests of the United States are as wide as the world or can be narrowed to particular areas? The debate has already begun, with men of good will ranged on both sides, precipitated by the announcement of a treaty for the mutual defense of the United States and certain countries of Western Europe.
This treaty, if adopted, may prove to be one of those great occasional acts which determine the whole course of a nation's foreign relations. There is every propriety, then, and indeed an overwhelming necessity, that it be examined with care, discussed at length, and acted upon with a full consciousness on the part of those concerned -- namely, all the American people -- of the special significance of each possible course of action regarding it.
The sponsors of the treaty evidently have both military and political aims in view, both heavy with psychological overtones. The question in the minds of some observers as to the precedence which should be given each will doubtless be a factor in the debate. Can any recommendation be made that might reconcile them? Another question is what effect the adoption of a regional security pact among the strongest western Powers will have on nations which are not included, and, more important still, on the universal security system of the United Nations. Finally, there is the question how these considerations affect the long-view interests of the United States, especially its paramount interest in establishing security and peace. I shall take the questions up in reverse order, beginning with the last and largest.
II. NEUTRALITY VERSUS COLLECTIVE SECURITY
Any tendency to replace the general United Nations commitment to oppose aggression by a series of limited pacts for defense within arbitrary geographical boundaries can hardly fail to rehabilitate the ancient concept of neutrality which the Charter was supposed to have finally discredited. For while the signatories of the Charter understood that the Security Council procedure for deciding that an armed attack had occurred was subject to veto by any one of the five permanent members, the substantive obligation to help the victim was clearly set forth and was not the less binding morally for being stated in general terms.
In 1932, Mr. Stimson, then Secretary of State, argued that in accepting the Briand-Kellogg Pact renouncing aggressive war the 63 signatories had extended the concept of "a community spirit which can be evoked to prevent war" already accepted by the signatories of the Covenant of the League of Nations. "Henceforth," he wrote, "when two nations engage in armed conflict either one or both of them must be wrongdoers -- violators of the general treaty. We no longer draw a circle about them and treat them with the punctilios of the duelist's code. Instead we denounce them as lawbreakers. By that very act we have made obsolete many legal precedents and have given the legal profession the task of reëxamining many of its codes and treatises." [i]
Fifteen years later, Mr. Stimson, having meanwhile directed our War Department in another world war, developed his thesis that the Briand-Kellogg Pact had not been "an isolated incident." He noted that repeated resolutions in the League of Nations and elsewhere had denounced aggression as "criminal," and that the question whether this term was accurate had come up specifically in connection with the proposal to try the men responsible for the recent war. Had there in fact been a war of aggression and, in that case, were those who ordered the aggression punishable? The Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal held that the responsible leaders of Germany were subject to trial; and they were in fact tried and convicted. Appraising the Nuremberg judgment, Mr. Stimson wrote:
What happened before World War II was that we lacked the courage to enforce the authoritative decision of the international world. We agreed with the Kellogg Pact that aggressive war must end. We renounced it, and we condemned those who might use it. But it was a moral condemnation only. We thus did not reach the second half of the question: What will you do to an aggressor when you catch him? If we had reached it, we should easily have found the right answer. But that answer escaped us, for it implied a duty to catch the criminal, and such a chase meant war. It was the Nazi confidence that we would never chase and catch them, and not a misunderstanding of our opinion of them, that led them to commit their crimes. Our offense was thus that of the man who passed by on the other side. That we have finally recognized our negligence and named the criminals for what they are is a piece of righteousness too long delayed by fear.[ii]
The belief against which ex-Secretary Stimson argues is that neutrality is compatible with international justice and the realities of international security. He might have added that it is incompatible with the national interest of a World Power.
I remember asking Lord Bryce 25 years ago why England had come around in 1908 to a concept of the freedom of the seas which accorded broad rights to neutral shipping in time of war -- a concept which, when war actually arrived only six years later, undermined the logic of British replies to protests against the naval blockade of Germany. Bryce, a man of lofty ideals as well as high intelligence, answered very simply: "We expected to be neutral."
Today in the atomic age there is less excuse to make that sort of mistake, but the credulity of isolationists in all lands dies hard. In England today we see a group of left-wing Laborites placing the same emphasis on expediency that Lord Bryce did, and neglecting in addition an issue in international morality which hardly existed in a day when idealists often thought the proper aim was to keep out of war rather than prevent it. The argument of this group of Labor extremists is that Britain should be neutral as between the United States and Soviet Russia. It is well expounded in The New Statesman and Nation, nearly every issue of which prints their fervent attempts to rationalize the view that Britain is equally in danger from American capitalism and Soviet Communism, that she should not enter into the question of which would be the more to blame if war should come, and that she would have no stake in the outcome.
All of us can recall somewhat similar phenomena on our side of the Atlantic. In 1912-14 President Wilson launched the program of domestic reform known as the New Freedom; and understandably enough, on purely domestic counts, he hoped against hope that it would not be interrupted by any need to participate in the war which broke out in Europe in the second year of his Administration. Our social progress was in fact set back very seriously by our concentration of energies on winning that war and by the reaction which followed; and the ground lost was only made good -- and then at far greater cost because belated -- in the first years of the New Deal. But the challenge to the United States in 1914-16 on the world stage transcended the challenge in the field of social reform, important as that was. As the war progressed, Wilson saw that Germany's attack on Britain and France, her invasion of neutral Belgium and her campaign of frightfulness on land and sea constituted an attack on western civilization; and when Germany contemptuously wrote off our protests against the sinking of American ships on the high seas as simply more scraps of paper, he realized that if the assumption that necessity knows no law were not defeated there would not merely be no social reform in the United States but eventually, perhaps, no United States.
If Wilson was astigmatic in failing to see earlier that we would not be immune to the results of Germany's conquest of Europe, and hence must abandon the concept of neutrality in thought and deed, his political opponents in 1919 and 1920 made a more profound and less excusable mistake of the same sort. By then we had played a decisive part in winning a world war which we had tried by every means to avoid. Yet they imagined that we could retreat behind our two oceans, escape responsibility for the ensuing settlement and refuse any part in organizing a world security system.
The same illusion persisted 15 years later. In 1935-39 the American Congress made painstaking efforts to legislate the American Government into a position where it would have to remain neutral, whereas of course it should have been devising legislation which would warn the threatening aggressor that if war came the United States would not remain neutral.
Contemporary counterparts of the English leftists who take refuge in the hope of remaining aloof while the future of the world is being settled between Moscow and Washington are the American commentators who recently were advising that the United States take a neutral position between Britain and Russia in the Mediterranean and Middle East, specifically in connection with the British effort to help the Greek people and Government resist a Soviet-sponsored Communist revolution. The Truman Administration did not adopt the advice. It decided that (as permitted by international law) it would help the legally-elected Greek Government maintain itself; and it joined in the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations to try actively to prevent the fighting on the northern frontiers of Greece from developing into full-scale war by investigating it on the spot and baring the truth about it to the world.
Both the Englishmen who see no British stake in a contest between American democracy and Russian Communism, and the Americans who find some new reason each week to limit the interests of the United States to a particular area to suit a particular solution of some threatening situation, are deluding themselves. Even in the realm of theory, aggressive war is an international crime only if at best the whole of the civilized world community, and at least the majority of it, are willing to define it as such; and progress is made toward giving the definition concrete significance as they become ready to back up their profession of faith with, if need be, the force of their arms. Concretely, war in the Middle East between the Soviet Union and Britain as a result of a Soviet attack will involve us inevitably on the British side, not in defense of "British imperialism" but for the same reason that war in Alaska between the Soviet Union and the United States as a result of a Soviet attack will inevitably involve Britain on our side.
One thing certain is that if the greatest and most fortunately situated member of the civilized community holds back, the assertion that aggressive war is a crime falls to the ground, in theory and practice, reduced automatically to the level of the protestations of virtue without valor and good intentions without force which issued from Geneva in the thirties while the armies of aggression were openly gathering for the projected step-by-step conquest of the world.
The conclusion -- so simple as to be banal, but not on that account less than everlastingly true -- is that any nation, and above all a World Power, must in its own interest look at its long-range problems not with a hope of securing an isolated advantage here, a tactical success there, but with a view to establishing more firmly in the world the principles of justice. For the course which strengthens the security of a world society based on freedom and peace will correspond in the long run to the highest interest of any free nation which is bent on retaining its freedom and hopes not to have to fight for it. But on what basis can the security of a free and peaceful world society be built if the strong are to be neutral in the face of wrong?
III. REGIONALISM VERSUS COLLECTIVE SECURITY
President Truman has told us that the proposed North Atlantic Pact (the text of which will doubtless have been published by the time this appears in print) is "a collective defense arrangement within the terms of the United Nations Charter;" and the State Department has said [iii] that it finds its basis in Article 51 of the Charter, which permits U.N. members to join in measures of self-defense against armed attack in cases where the Security Council fails to act, and in Article 52, the first paragraph of which permits them to form regional arrangements "for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action," and the second and third paragraphs of which specifically describe those matters as "local disputes."
The reference to Article 52 limits rather than strengthens the authority supplied by Article 51. At San Francisco, Article 51 was deliberately placed in Chapter VII, entitled "Action with Respect to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression," instead of in the following Chapter, entitled "Regional Arrangements." Since all the authorization needed to make a general treaty underwriting the defense and security provisions of the Charter is contained in Article 51, the additional invocation of Article 52 indicates our intention to increase our commitment to collective action on a regional basis but not at present to move to strengthen the United Nations procedure generally.
Now it should be recalled that nowhere in the United Nations Charter is any geographical limitation on the rights and duties of members imposed or implied. The only limitation is the one as to method which is contained in the right of veto granted the five permanent members of the Security Council.
The American people gave every sign of approving the universal nature of the United Nations commitment; and when the Senate ratified the Charter by 89 votes to 2 the United States was taken to have legally come of age as a World Power. What were the duties of U.N. membership which seemed to justify that belief? One in particular, set forth in the very first article enumerating the organization's purposes -- "to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace." And the second article bound members not only to "fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter," and not only to "settle their international disputes by peaceful means," and not only to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state," but also to "give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter."
United Nations enthusiasts created some dangerous illusions by "overselling" the organization to the American public; it was not, as they hoped, a completely efficient instrument for enforcing the peace, and could never become that while the right of absolute veto existed. But by describing the United Nations as they would like it to be they did in a way accustom the American people to the grander conception and established a presumption that the United States was more unambiguously committed to preserving world peace than was actually the case. Later, as Soviet Russia resorted again and again to the veto, and particularly when she used it to exclude qualified new members from the organization, Americans acquired a dislike and contempt for the device in itself and began asking whether something could not be done to modify it or at least by-pass it. Why should the Soviets be permitted to thwart the world's dream of peace? Thus, somewhat ironically, Americans came progessively to accept the idea that the United Nations should be enabled to reach decisions more easily, even on questions involving the use of force, while its ability to reach decisions on anything was growing less and less. Unhappily, moreover, an increasing number of Americans arrived at the dangerous conclusion that before U.N. can become efficacious in any respect the Soviet Union must be forced out.
The fundamental damage done the United Nations by the veto has been that it stopped the Security Council dead in its tracks when it tried to create the very basis from which it might be able to act in time of crisis. The "everlasting no" of the Soviets prevented the creation of the enforcement machinery called for in the Charter and the designation of the military and other forces which would make possible that machinery's operation. It did this by paralyzing the Military Staff Committee, which was supposed to arrange what armed contingents or other facilities should be provided by members for the international police force. At the same time it increased world tension by blocking the Atomic Energy Commission, created in 1946 to work out a fair system of controlling the production of fissionable materials and atomic weapons. This paralysis of the Security Council in its two most important constructive functions has more than anything else caused the present sense of insecurity to spread through the world and raised the cry that a way must be found to break the stalemate and unlock the enforcement powers of the Charter.
This being so, should not the effort which we are now about to make to remedy the comparative defenselessness of Western Europe be thought of in connection with the need to remedy the weakness of the United Nations? It is in accordance with the Anglo-Saxon instinct, I know, to think first of the concrete step to meet a concrete problem and only afterwards to define the underlying logic which prompted it. But do we really need further evidence, after the calamitous chapters in our memory book bearing the names Manchuria, Ethiopia, Poland and Pearl Harbor -- not to go back to Sarajevo -- that a World Power has special reasons for understanding that an armed attack on any peaceful nation is an armed attack on every peaceful nation?
A World Power which was contemplating aggression might think it useful to limit geographically the right of all U.N. members to receive aid against aggression and the duty of all members to render it. But surely that is not in the interest of a World Power which is building and hoping for peace. Nor, indeed, would it be in the interest of such a Power in case it were called on to fight to uphold the principles of the United Nations. What American strategist before World War II would have thought of, say, Dakar or New Caledonia as vital military points in the American war effort? Who can name today, in the atomic age, the areas in which U.N. members would need facilities in order to defeat an aggressor? If the struggle for peace fails and war comes, those who are fighting the aggressor will want as many nations as possible to be at the very least not neutral.[iv]
Now there is nothing wrong with the concept of regional arrangements to deal with local disputes, as authorized by Articles 52, 53 and 54 of the Charter, and indeed their advantages as adjuncts to a global security system are obvious. But these articles have to be very broadly interpreted indeed to make them cover disputes between nations in different regional groups, or between the groupings themselves. And when we do so, do we not risk raising all disputes straightway to intercontinental proportions? Further, it is almost impossible to define authentic "regions" as foundations of a comprehensive system. What focus of power is there in Africa or Southeast Asia or the Middle East? When we devise a region to fit one set of requirements it does not hold for another, and may be still less valid in the unforeseen circumstances of tomorrow. What -- not approximately, but exactly, in the sense that this nation is in and that nation is not -- do we mean by "West Europe?" What in this same exact sense is the "North Atlantic Community?" Or the "Mediterranean Community?" Or "Southeast Asia?" Begin segregating nations into groups -- put Canada or Portugal or Italy or Greece or Austria or Iran "here" and not "there" -- and the contradictions and dangers of the attempt become obvious. Is Portugal a Mediterranean nation, as has been suggested, though it faces the Atlantic and its island possessions are the key to the middle ocean? If France is interpreted for purposes of the Atlantic Pact as including the metropolitan area which lies across the Mediterranean in Africa and is named Algeria, what is left in logic or practice of the terms "Western Europe" and "North Atlantic"? Is Austria more (or less) West European than Italy, or Norway than Spain? Shall Greece and Turkey, whom we are helping, be partners in a Mediterranean bloc while we are not, or if we are to join it shall we also take a special interest in the other nations which might belong? The quandary in which one attempt at arbitrary allotment placed the Scandinavian countries is a warning against looking on the living international fabric as a paper map which can be cut up to suit the pagination of a book of geography written in accordance with some particular theory.
And what happens when regions overlap, when some nations are members of two or more groupings? We belong to the Pan American system -- which, incidentally, does not include as important an American state as Canada. We are now to belong also to the North Atlantic Community -- which (though including Canada) excludes Cuba on this side of the Atlantic and perhaps various maritime countries on the other. Eventually, if the system spreads, we might belong not only to the Mediterranean group but also to an East Asia group. Meanwhile, of course, the fact is that we shall already have become tied to the most remote of those areas, and not simply by our pledges under the U.N. Charter. Through the common membership of Britain and ourselves in the Atlantic Pact we shall have acquired a special link (whether defined or not) with Australia, New Zealand, Malaya and Ceylon and perhaps India and Pakistan; and similarly, via France and the Netherlands, with Indo-China and Indonesia. What responsibilities do members of a regional alliance have toward co-members whose colonial possessions become involved in a local war? Would even an explicit statement limiting such responsibilities prove to have meaning if the hostilities involving the interests of Great Powers? And what are the responsibilities of members toward co-members who belong to another regional alliance? For example, would Brazil, our Pan American partner, support us in case we had to go to the defense of France, our North Atlantic partner? Would she help us in case of war beginning in Berlin? Vice versa, what would be France's view of her commitment to us if we felt called on to go to the help of, say, Brazil? Still closer home, what would Canada do in that circumstance? The overlappings in a security system based on regions are evidently as troublesome as the gaps.
Even if we solve these difficulties, or ignore them, there remains what in the present atmosphere of crisis would seem a special reason to move very cautiously in establishing regional arrangements for purposes admittedly far transcending the settlement of "local disputes" specified in Article 52. At present the security provisions of the Charter exist merely on paper and in the consciences of the signatories. The weak can only hope that if they are attacked and resist, the stronger will feel impelled on the spur of the moment to implement their promises of help to the best of their abilities; but no preparations to do so have been made. This is already a disheartening situation for the smaller nations. If now some of them are left out of any regional arrangement, they not only fail to secure the reinsurance which it provides but they also will feel that their hope of assistance under the Charter, unsatisfactory as it was, has been further diminished. Some might think that they had no recourse but "neutrality." Essentially this is so unrealistic and hazardous a rôle that many would soon look for reinsurance elsewhere. Where? Almost inevitably from the very potential aggressor against whom they would have hoped for assistance under the Charter in case of need.
Thus there seems to be a real danger, which we should take steps to avoid, that nations which are included in a regional scheme will tend to feel that it sets the practical limits of their obligations; and that those not included will drift gradually into another camp. The ranks of the peace-loving nations would thus be divided, and the organization in which they had agreed to pool their joint efforts to maintain world security would lose even the pretense of power.
IV. THE JOINT POLITICO-MILITARY OBJECTIVE
Is there a way to gain the advantages aimed at in the Atlantic Pact and avoid the disadvantages of attempting to solve the problem of world security by dividing it regionally? May it even be possible to multiply the advantages? A twofold approach to the security problem, one political and general and continuing, one military and limited and temporary, might supply affirmative answers to both questions.
The political approach would be based on the principle that peace is indivisible and that security and peace are inseparable. One simple way of proceeding would be to prepare a special Protocol which would renew the pledge already given by U.N. members to use the procedure laid down in Chapter VI of the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the procedure in Chapter VII for dealing with acts of aggression; but which would supplement the Charter by providing that if the peaceful procedure fails and aggression occurs the signatories will not take a veto in the Security Council as final but will themselves attempt to live up to the purposes of the Charter and restrain the aggressor by force. A voluntary agreement of this sort, which would be open to all members of the United Nations, is fully permissible within the letter and spirit of the Charter; for it would commit the signatory nations to nothing substantive to which the Charter does not already commit them, and it would commit them procedurally merely to doing as a group in certain cases what they had said they intended doing unanimously in all cases.
The Protocol could be made to conform to the constitutional and other legal requirements of the various signatories, for the method by which they were to decide to bring it into operation could offer adequate provision for deliberation and consultation. For example, it might provide that if an attack on a U.N. member took place and a stalemate occurred in the Security Council, any one of the Great Power signatories to the Protocol would be authorized to canvass the other signatories in order to see whether they were prepared to take action, and if two-thirds replied in the affirmative then all would be called on to make available the specified military contingents or other facilities for the necessary police action. This has the advantage of requiring no elaborate machinery and probably would produce quite realistic results. Alternatively, the Protocol might make the General Assembly or the Little Assembly responsible for deciding by a two-thirds vote whether or not the agreed action was to be begun. Or perhaps a specified vote in favor of action in the Security Council might bring the Protocol into effect. Throughout any one of these processes, of course, the influence of the United States would, as a practical matter, be fully felt.[v] If it wished to hold back from action because it did not consider that the aggression was unmistakable or because it did not feel that the peaceful procedure had been exhausted, there would be little possibility that any majority could be mustered for action.
In our own case, Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution reserves to Congress the exclusive power to declare war, and no Congress can legally bind its successors. We cannot too soon establish, however, the principle that every Congress shall act against recognized aggression. Precedents show that Congressional policy often develops as a result of a lead by the President. The Monroe Doctrine began as an exclusively Executive pronouncement; yet today the Congress would unhesitatingly declare war to uphold it (though constitutionally free not to do so), and it is the knowledge of this, of course, which gives the Doctrine its true sanction. Until the same can be said of our obligation to resist aggression the Senate's ratification of the United Nations Charter fails in certain measure to carry the necessary meaning.
Actually, the Senate has already moved toward recognizing this need by the admission that some latitude must be allowed the Executive if the United States is ever to participate in an effective program to discourage international aggression. It made this move when it accepted membership in the United Nations.
The Charter authorizes the Security Council to take military action against an aggressor, and confers on the Military Staff Committee the duty of arranging the contingents which member nations (the United States, of course, included) shall provide in advance for this purpose. The bill enabling the United States to participate in the United Nations (presented to the Senate by Senator Connally on November 8, 1945, and passed December 4 by 65 to 7 votes) authorized the President to negotiate special agreements with the Security Council "providing for the numbers and types of armed forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of facilities and assistance, including rights of passage, to be made available to the Security Council on its call for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security in accordance with Article 43 of said Charter." It further stated that these agreements "shall be subject to the approval of the Congress by appropriate Act or joint resolution," i.e. by a mere majority vote and not by the two-thirds required for the ratification of treaties. Furthermore, although a decision of the Security Council that the military forces assigned to it shall be used in a given case is subject to the veto, and though this veto can of course be exercised by the American representative, he is under the orders not of the Senate but of the President.
Thus the Senate has already set fairly broad limits for what the Executive may do in order to deal with aggression under the Charter. If none of the procedures outlined above for bringing the suggested Protocol into operation seems to fall within those limits, certainly one which does can easily be found.
A reaffirmation of the most fundamental duty of U.N. membership coupled with the adoption of a procedure by which it might more easily be performed would constitute the political part of the contemplated twofold approach to the security problem. The larger the number of U.N. members participating in it, the better; and the duration of their voluntary agreement should be limited only by the possibility that at some future time the United Nations might find itself able, as a result of unforeseen changes in the nature and policy of certain states, to strengthen its own enforcement procedure to the point where any supplementary agreement among a group of members became superfluous.
The military part of the contemplated program would be along the lines indicated in the Charter. Its basis, as under the Charter, would be an agreement among those Powers best able to carry the terms of the political agreement into effect. They would agree on the means needed for effective enforcement action and on the contribution which each was to hold itself in readiness to make. The more effective their preparations, the less the likelihood that they would be called on to use them on their own behalf; equally important, the greater would be their ability to give prompt and affective aid to co-signatories of the Protocol which might not have been able to participate actively in the group preparations for self-defense.
All this, it will at once be noticed, closely resembles what will be done under the proposed North Atlantic Pact when a number of powerful U.N. members join for self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. The European participants in the Pact will be nations which are in a position to coöperate closely with the United States in the event of attack (thus fulfilling the requirement of the Vandenberg Resolution that our help to other nations shall increase the security of the United States); and it will be to them that the United States will first allot whatever military lend-lease it can afford. The President will presumably submit the lend-lease agreements with the Atlantic Pact countries to Congress in order to obtain its approval and the necessary appropriations. Thus the immediately necessary military part of the two-fold program will be fulfilled. But, as I have said above, we should not think that our political interests had simultaneously received adequate attention.
Evidently there is much more than a technical difference, moreover, between an Atlantic Pact which is an isolated measure of group self-defense and an Atlantic Pact which is coupled with an agreement among its signatories reaffirming the responsibility of every United Nations member for the safety and defense of all members and creating a more flexible procedure for deciding on collective action in particular instances. A vast difference in American mood and intentions is indicated, which will not be lost either on nations not included in the Atlantic Pact or on nations tempted now or later to commit aggression.
If the Atlantic Pact is to stand for the present as an isolated measure there is particular need that it state categorically, either in the preamble or the text, that it does not modify in any respect the obligations of its signatories under the United Nations Charter and that it is not a limitation of policy to a few U.N. members but a specific reënforcement of a general policy which applies to all members.
A step that might be taken at once to forestall fears (or in some quarters hopes) that the United States is reverting to any form of isolationism, even on a hemispheric or oceanic scale, would be for the President to make a solemn statement affirming our broad purpose, within the limit of our capabilities, to help any member of the United Nations which is the object of armed attack. He might do this when the Atlantic Pact is signed or ratified; or he might choose some occasion when the whole world will be listening, for example when he lays the cornerstone of the United Nations permanent headquarters in New York. He thus would expand the special and limited meaning of the "Truman Doctrine," raise it from a negative to a positive policy, and thereby link it to the general purposes of the United Nations. He would have left the way open, too, for possible later action, as through the suggested Protocol, to strengthen the enforcement procedure of the United Nations. In any event, the new Truman Doctrine could be implemented later, if Congress saw fit, by a joint declaration. Or time and necessity might give it the same Congressional sanction without Congressional action that they have given the Monroe Doctrine. Meanwhile, Senators would have no cause for worry lest it placed responsibilities on us which we could not fulfill or might not consider it proper to fulfill in areas where the political situation was so fluid or turbulence was so endemic that intervention seemed fruitless, or when we did not feel that the alleged act of aggression was unmistakable. For the declaration would be unilateral, and we would fulfill its intentions as our capabilities permitted and our conscience dictated.
Other methods can be suggested, doubtless, to achieve what we have in view in Europe and simultaneously to emphasize that it is only a part of the general program of establishing world security and peace to which we remain committed. The question is whether Americans care enough about the goal to risk adopting any one of the methods. They must be reminded that the United Nations is not an abstraction but an operating organization which is only as strong as its strongest members, and that in present circumstances this means, realistically, that it will be as strong as the American people say that they will be. If they revert to the idea that foreign wars are "somebody else's fault" and "somebody else's business," the security provisions of the Charter will be writ in water and will become as inconsequential in practice as the words of the Briand-Kellogg Pact.
Is this the desire of the American people, for all their disappointments with a veto-ridden United Nations? I do not believe it, but rather that under bold leadership they will consent to use their sovereignty, in Wendell Willkie's phrase, instead of hoarding it. The task is to convince them that there is less safety to be found in the pre-United Nations concept that sovereignty is a hard protective shell which must be kept intact at all costs than in the belief animating the Charter that it is a source of dynamic power which nations can draw on to serve their national interests by conscious acts of foresight.
Mankind will of course never reach a perfect equilibrium. We are forever climbing up the ever-climbing wave. Relations between men and the relationship of men to their environment change, and there is no final solution to the problems which those changes produce. The struggle for happiness, prosperity, justice, security and peace goes on, under new conditions and in new forms. Sometimes in this struggle right confronts right. No organization of nations can make sure that in such a dilemma each will get his due, or even insure absolutely that when right confronts wrong right will win. But it can set as a standard of civilized behavior that when an international conflict threatens, whatever the apparent rights and wrongs, neither side shall resort to force to gain its way but shall be constrained to follow a prescribed procedure of peaceful settlement which will among other things give the public opinion of the world a chance to inform itself, express itself and, if need be, prepare for action. The United Nations established this as its guiding principle and made nonobservance of it the test by which it would mark a nation as an aggressor. Under the Charter, even a member which is right becomes wrong if it resorts to force other than in self-defense; and to that wrong no other member can be neutral.
This was the line of conduct on which the world took its stand in 1945. If regional pacts are to be strong points along that front line, they contribute to the abilities of U.N. members to carry out their duties under the Charter. If they are to be storm cellars in the rear where the strongest take refuge, leaving many of the weak in advanced and untenable positions, then they are a signal of a general retreat. Which they are to be will be seen soon in the general setting given the Atlantic Pact.
V. AN AMERICAN DOCTRINE
In summary, this might be an agenda for our policy makers:
1. Help establish economic, social and political stability in foreign countries, to the extent of our capacities; so that their people may choose their form of government freely and will feel able to exercise that freedom to reject dictatorship; and so that their governments may be able and anxious to resist the spread of totalitarian ideologies and defeat the operations of fifth columns.
This, of course, is the objective of the Marshall Plan. President Truman's "bold new program" for the improvement of undeveloped areas aims to supplement it.
2. Give political support to constitutional and independent governments which are ready and willing to fulfill their duties as United Nations members, and increase their confidence that joint measures of assistance can be taken on behalf of those of them that need it; so that, if war should come, they will choose to fight in fulfillment of their duties and for the defense of their countries, as brave people have fought before, even against odds which may at first be overwhelming, in hope of ultimate victory and survival in a society of free nations.
The foregoing would be the aim of a general Protocol, open to all United Nations members, reaffirming the Charter obligation of members to assist each other against aggression and making it easier for those that decide they will do so to do it effectively.
3. Give military help in the form of military lend-lease or otherwise to specific countries which will thereby be better enabled to defend themselves against aggression, direct or through fifth columns; selecting for this help (with proper regard, of course, for our own needs and capacities) those countries which could coöperate most closely with us in the event that they became involved in a war against aggression, thus increasing our own safety by decreasing the likelihood of war and, should war come, by increasing the likelihood of victory.
The foregoing would be the objective of the North Atlantic Pact for mutual defense and of our program of continued help to countries like Greece and Turkey.
4. Sum up and bring to new life our purpose in undertaking these immense and costly efforts on behalf of stability, security, justice and peace in a comprehensive statement of policy by the President of the United States -- a statement which would take cognizance of the dangers in which we live and of the responsibilities which our resources, talents and traditions put on our shoulders; which would be calculated to persuade our people to choose the lesser risk of playing their rôle in the world fully, bravely and with foresight rather than the greater risk of evading it by delay, indecision or retreat; and which would rally as many members of the civilized world community as possible to join us in safeguarding our common inheritance and convince them that together we need not fail.
This unified policy would muster our full weight behind the purposes and principles which became ours when we joined the United Nations, unlock the Charter's power to enforce security and maintain peace, and carry a new American Doctrine to greatness.
[i] Address before the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, August 8, 1932 (Foreign Affairs, October 1932, sup.).
[ii] "The Nuremberg Trial: Landmark in Law." Foreign Affairs, January 1947.
[iii] State Department Bulletin, "Building the Peace," January 14, 1949.
[iv] Granted, of course, that internationally guaranteed neutrality is a permissible rôle for a certain sort of political entity, even though it did not save Danzig or Belgium last time. But neutrality is not compatible with membership in an organization which imposes certain obligations in the event of aggression.
[v] For other aspects of the program, including possible effects on Soviet policy, see the present writer's articles in The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, August 1, 1948; Foreign Affairs, October 1948; Look, January 3, 1949.